9 Common Mistakes Hotels Make When Preparing for Weather Emergencies

By Kurt Meister Senior Vice President , Distinguished Programs | October 21, 2018

You didn't have to be in Houston or Florida to understand the colossal impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Those two weather-related disasters fueled the most expensive hurricane season ever in 2017, totaling $202.6 billion in damages in the United States alone.

And 2018 has been no less volatile, from devastating flash floods in Ellicott City, Maryland, and Central Pennsylvania, to raging wildfires in California. The stark reality: dangerous weather – tornadoes, ferocious straight-line winds, blizzards and even earthquakes – can strike at any moment.

In the event of adverse weather, communities rely upon hotels to provide shelter. In turn, hotel employees and guests rely upon hotel management to be prepared. When a hotel isn't ready, the results can be expensive, chaotic and even dangerous. And even the most well-prepared hotels can suffer flooding or storm damage that leads to temporary closure.

Let's review nine common mistakes (and fixes) that will help you stay well equipped for whatever Mother Nature may bring.

1. Not Having Enough Supplies

If a blizzard or hurricane strikes, you may shelter in place for days, and no hotel wants to run out of food and water. Ideally, you should have enough on hand to last for weeks. Your hotel also must have tight connections with people in the supply chain. In the event of any widespread weather disaster, you'll need to know not only how much food, water and other supplies you have on hand, but also which suppliers can access your facility, and which ones cannot. A quick tip: Also stock up on items like iodine that can help with water purification in a worst-case scenario.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.